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No god but God : The Origins, Evolution, and…

No god but God : The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (2005)

by Reza Aslan

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I want to write two reviews for this book. In one I say well done, and thank you Reza Aslan, for your clear prose, your sympathetic defense of Islam, the remarkable way you cram so much--religious history, political history, theology, religious practice--into so few pages.
In the other I say for the sake of all that's holy Reza, will you stop banging on about how Islam is a liberal-democrat's wet dream religion? Because that doesn't sit very well with your endless claims that the Ulama comprises only the spawn of anti-liberal-democratic-demons. And while we're at it, I'm pretty sure clerics have reasons other than sexism for the decisions they make. Tied in to this, will you stop making obviously bad arguments (e.g., "People say that Islam is a 'religion of the sword.' But Buddhists and Christians fight all the time!" Sure they do. But Jesus and Buddha never commanded armies.)? Will you get off Sufism's jockstrap? I know that's the easiest to paint as the aforementioned L-DWD religion (drink! screw! rock'n'roll! the Gaia thesis! I mean, there must be more to it than that), but it's just possible that that's a sign of weakness rather than strength.

Instead, I will just say: this is a great, short introduction to the history of Islam. It touches on a few theological/jurisprudential points without knuckling down on them. His idea that Islamic terrorism is caused by a surging conservatism clashing with an equally surging liberalization is a plausible one. But the book's polemic (justified by hysterical Islamophobia, I grant you) distorts its history and argument far too much: if Islam offered only support for liberal-capitalistic governments in the middle east, it wouldn't be as popular as it is. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
A pretty good concise account of the revelation to Mohammed and the origins of Islam. Well worth a read. ( )
  nmele | Dec 4, 2013 |
A must read for those striving to understand the political evolution of the religious / political state of Islam. Must read more than once. ( )
  SharonBey | Nov 26, 2013 |
This brief history of Islam should be required reading for foreign policy-makers, editorial writers and military commanders. Sure, Aslan has a point of view, but in less than 300 pages he summarizes the history of Islam and interprets contemporary turmoil in the Muslim world in a way that makes sense. Don't read Bernard Lewis, read Reza Aslan! ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
This book spent time lost on bookshelves, in moving boxes, and in temporarily abandoned backpacks until I finally finished it today. This is the first book on Islam I've ever read, so I'm no expert on the factual parts of the book, but Aslan definitely seems to know what he's talking about. It is mostly a straightforward history of the religion. The last two chapters are about its history under colonialism, the struggle between more moderate forms of Islam with that of Wahhabist Islam, and finally about the future of the religion. If you want a fairly detailed (but not overwhelmingly so) history of Islam, this is a great place to start. My only quibble was in the some of the historical recounting, Aslan shifts into the present tense and takes on almost a fiction-like tone, I guess to make it more relatable. But I found it kind of jarring, because the book is fantastic when it is just clearly written with a measured tone, but without being dry. Apart from this, I highly recommend it. ( )
  MichaelDC | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
THESE are rough times for Islam. It is not simply that frictions have intensified lately between Muslims and followers of other faiths. There is trouble, and perhaps even greater trouble, brewing inside the Abode of Peace itself, the notional Islamic ummah or nation that comprises a fifth of humanity.

News reports reveal glimpses of such trouble -- for instance, in the form of flaring strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in places like Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the greater tensions, while similarly rooted in the distant past, are less visible to the wider world. The rapid expansion of literacy among Muslims in the past half-century, and of access to new means of communication in the last decade, have created a tremendous momentum for change. Furious debates rage on the Internet, for example, about issues like the true meaning of jihad, or how to interpret and apply Islamic law, or how Muslim minorities should engage with the societies they live in.
added by cpandmg | editNew York Times, Max Rodenbeck (May 29, 2005)
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In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Thank you. Mom and Dad, for never doubting me; Catherine Bell, for getting me started; Frank Conroy, for finding me; Daniel Menaker, for trusting me; Amanda Fortini, for fixing me; my teachers, for challenging me; and Ian Werrett, for absolutely everything else.
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In the arid, desolate basin of Mecca, surrounded on all sides by the bare mountains of the Arabian desert, stands a small, nondescript sanctuary that the ancient Arabs refer to as the Ka'ba: the Cube.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812971892, Paperback)

Though it is the fastest-growing religion in the world, Islam remains shrouded in ignorance and fear for much of the West. In No god but God, Reza Aslan, an internationally acclaimed scholar of religions, explains this faith in all its beauty and complexity. Beginning with a vivid account of the social and religious milieu in which the Prophet Muhammad forged his message, Aslan paints a portrait of the first Muslim community as a radical experiment in religious pluralism and social egalitarianism. He demonstrates how, after the Prophet’s death, his successors attempted to interpret his message for future generations–an overwhelming task that fractured the Muslim community into competing sects. Finally, Aslan examines how, in the shadow of European colonialism, Muslims developed conflicting strategies to reconcile traditional Islamic values with the realities of the modern world, thus launching what Aslan terms the Islamic Reformation. Timely and persuasive, No god but God is an elegantly written account of a magnificent yet misunderstood faith.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:38 -0400)

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An authoritative study of the Islamic faith in relation to the other world religions sheds new light on its origins and history, from the social reformation role of Muhammad to the impact of fundamentalism and terrorism on Islam.

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